Serious Question: How Are You Ready For A Baby With Someone But Not A Committed Relationship?

January 28, 2013  |  

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Yes, I know not everyone wants to get married, and theoretically, the qualities that make one a good parent are different from those of a good spouse – although I think the same underlying principles characterize both identities – but I can’t for the life of me understand how couples can be ready for a baby together, yet in the same breath claim they don’t want to be tied to each other in holy matrimony.

Take for instance, my good guy friend’s girlfriend who recently told him she’s ready to have a baby and that she’d actually prefer a child before a ring. Surprised by her bizarre – and out of order, in my opinion, request – I asked him how he felt about that prospectus. In terms of becoming a father he said, “if it happens, it happens,” and “he wouldn’t mind,” meanwhile on the husband front, he’s making no definitive moves toward marriage. Not exactly what I expect to hear when I’m thinking about expecting.

I am by no means an advocate for rushing down the aisle hastily, and I hate the idea of marrying someone you knocked up accidentally being “doing the right thing.” The way I see it, you’re doing the wrong thing and actually making a complicated situation even worse by trying to bandage children out of wedlock with a marriage. But for those who shy away from the commitment of marrying their current partner in favor of first comes baby then comes marriage, how is it that they don’t recognize parenthood as a union by a different name?
If two people decide to become parents and raise a child together, is that not a commitment? Are you not setting yourself up to have to deal with this other person you’re not sure you can commit to as a husband or wife for the rest of your life as a co-parent anyway? If you believe in marriage and want to be married one day, how can you not see having a child with someone as, arguably, an even riskier prospect than marriage – except for men whose only worry is losing half of their wealth in a divorce. They should know they could lose just as much in child support, though.

Even a single guy friend of mine the other night told me he’s ready to become a father but hasn’t once said anything to me about being with whoever the mother of that child may be. He seems to have an “if it happens, it happens” attitude toward marriage but fatherhood is something he’s trying to make happen like yesterday. And while we’re not all cut out to be husbands or wives – or even parents for that matter – I couldn’t stop myself from trying to explain to him that he’d still find himself in some sort of committed relationship with the mother of his child – even if they were both only simply committed to the wellbeing of their offspring. What he didn’t seem to get was my insistence that that commitment would be a heck of a lot easier with someone who was also committed to his wellbeing, whether in marriage or a monogamous/polyamorous/open relationship of some sort.

He wasn’t hearing it, and the more I listened to him talk the more I got the inkling that the real thing stopping him, and possibly some other people, from taking the marriage step and skipping ahead to the baby is a fear of not being able to be faithful. And while I applaud the ability to recognize that about oneself, it should be known that cheating isn’t any less messy when a ring isn’t involved and a baby is. Matter of fact, I’d argue that you up your chances of getting left with nothing but monthly visitations and child support payments when you cheat on someone you procreated with that way than when you cheat on someone who actually loves you and vowed for better or worse and may actually stay through the indiscretion and let you be a hands-on dad. There’s not much of a safety net for fathers in a world of independent women who already walk around with an “If I could get pregnant by myself I wouldn’t need a man for anything” type of attitude. Why set oneself up for a custody battle by spending less time choosing the mother of your child than you do your baby names? And for women, sure child support may always be an option, that is if you can track down the non-committal sp*rm donor you already knew you didn’t want in your life forever.

The role of parent and spouse are obviously quite different, but neither can be done well without a little teamwork and a whole lot of compromise. Often people shy away from marriage because they don’t want to be completely accountable to another person, but having a child with someone in lieu of a wedding is no buffer against accountability. If you think that mother is not going to make you pay for that child in some kind of way or expect you to pick your child up and drop him off at the time you say you’re going to pick him up and drop him off and not give you a headache when you don’t pick him off and drop him off at that time, you are sadly mistaken.

Maybe I take parenthood too seriously – that should look like an oxymoron to you by the way – but I think people underestimate the parental value of two individuals who are not just committed to the birth of another human being but also to each other’s betterment. When you’re not, kids get lost in the shuffle and often become pawns that can be pitted against the other, because at the end of the day, all one parent cares about is them and there’s, not the other parent and there’s. If you don’t want to marry, fine. But skipping marriage or a committed relationship and going straight to the baby is no escape from responsibility or even commitment, honestly. Going about parenthood the single, uncommitted way may sound like a good idea in theory, and for some it may work, but if I had to bet on whether that was the easier route, I’m putting my eggs in a different basket – literally.

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  • scandalous7

    Thank you for this article, I thought I was the only one who had sense.

  • chanela

    the strangest phenomenon i’ve seen, is people who are in the whole “Baby mama” situation for like 5 or 6 + years, yet AS SOON as they decide to get married…. they get a damn divorce 5 months later. WTH? lol

  • toyasg

    Before I read the comments I’d like to say to black women, the world has enough ba-stard kids and babymama’s. To the black women with class that no their worth dont let babymama’s continue to plague our society. Im so tired of this Im a single black woman with kids speech. If a law was passed that women who chose to have kids out of wedlock cant get gov support or childsupport . I bet this would change. Now I cant the credit for that comment DR.FUNK said it first. I dont care about other races having children out of wedlock (b4 1 of yall baby mama’s say we arent the only ones). Look at americans prison system 85% black. Full of black men that dont no their fathers. STOP THE MADNESS .The choice to bring a child into this world is your choice .

    • Ms. Kameria

      I wish I could up this multiple times. I need the government to cut me a check every month for not any having lil bastards a.k.a “dependents” for somebody else’s tax dollars to pay for.

      • chanela

        RIGHT!!! THANK YOU! all these resources and rewards for teenagers and young women with kids, but none for those without. wth is that about?

  • Jamie G.

    I can’t believe this guy and girl backward thinking. The guy attitude if it happens,it happens. See if he will say that when he gets tore up in child support payments and being mentally draining in dealing the the child’s mother especially if he knows she was crazy from the start with. It is sad for a lot of women to have that attitude of having a child first prior to marriage. People really need to sit down and count up the cost of having a child. Children are expensive, you have to sacrifice and put their needs before yours. This society glorifies on having a baby without being married.

    • Ms. Kameria

      Also its the fault of the mother, because more than likely she knew what kind of guy he was before she laid with him and after they were done and putting their clothes on…..the issue is….she hoped that he would “change” and become “magically responsible”, and she ends up taking care of the child by herself…..until his name is on a child support list….then wants to tell the world about how “hard” it is……but somehow ends up with a collection of kids and “baby daddies”…..and is waiting for somebody, anybody, to take mercy on her and marry her. She would prefer her “baby daddy” but its so late in the game for her that she’ll take who she can get……same story, different faces….if I’m wrong and being “judgmental” let me know.

  • B

    I wish people would stop acting like raising a child is less expensive and sacrificial than getting married and being in a committed relationship. I got married for less than $300. Yet the amount of money my husband and I are spending raising our son, who is now seven years old, surpassed five digits and counting a LOOOOOO…..NG time ago. I call people wanting to have children without commitment laziness and failure to accept being responsible adults.

  • yeppers

    But an UPSTANDING MAN…knows the importance of a WIFE in his life. What kind of upstanding man is this that doesnt want to make u his wife is my question???? And why are some women in belief that they donr DESERVE THAT. If IM GOOD ENOUGH TO HAVE YOUR CHILD, THEN IM GOOD enough TO BE YOUR WIFE…POINT BLANK PERIOD. If you cant make a committment to ME in that manner…then you WONT BE MAKING A COMITTMENT TO ANYTHING INSIDE MY BODY…or being in my life for the rest of it. I come before a child being on the table….that makes NO SENSE.

    • Cold Hard Truth

      You took the words right out of my mouth. You’re absolutely correct…thanks for having plain sense.

  • Ms. Kameria

    What about the dumb a** young girls (mostly young, and dumb but don’t know it yet) who are NEVER ready to have a baby until the very last day of the 9th month, who think it’s cute to have a “baby daddy” and the “commitment” of the relationship lasts up until the baby comes……

    What else kind of advice would you give them? I need to know what else to tell my younger cousins, and any other young lady I get the chance to talk to, Evidently what I’m saying is incorrect, or I’m not saying it correctly, because they’re still falling into this trap……ANY advice is welcomed…….

  • JaneJane

    Sometimes it is a timing thing…I am quickly approaching 40 with no children. I am in a very new relationship but when your doctor has the “time is ticking” talk with you, you have to start considering the option of choosing parenthood without partnership. Ideally, I would have chosen a partner first, but my standards being as high as they are (according to my mom) that did not happen. Frankly if you can financial and emotionally support a child, it really is your decision and no one else’s.

    • Na Na

      True. It is your decision. Doesn’t make it a good one though.

    • D

      I see multiple cats in your future.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    I thought I was the only woman in the world who felt like this. How do you make a commitment to raise a child together but you can’t even commit to each other 100% yet?

    • yeppers

      girl people are crazy these days…and with so much craziness in relationships. folks have been brainwashed to think chasin a man around for child support IF YOU CAN GET IT is better than marrying someone fully comitted to them and then exploring having children. Just because THINGS HAPPEN doesnt mean the whole world needs to go down that path….People act like children out of marriage is suppose to be a way of life if you cant get someone to marry you. No its not. I just dont know….all i do know is.. If I dont get married, then I wont be having ANY MANS CHILDREN. I DONT PLAY THAT MESS WHATSOEVER.

  • GeekMommaRants

    Let’s see its 2013 and many have children without marriage. Adele (she’s white, so the only name we will call her is Adele)

    Charlize Theron (same treatment)

    Sandra Bullock (same treatment)

    Any black women (different rules altogether)

    • Candacey Doris

      Sandra Bullock adopted and is very well off. Not to mention she was married and had hoped to have children with him, if he had kept it in his pants they would have been it it together. It’s not the color of your skin that makes having children without commitment bad, it’s the lack of responsibility, the fact that some people feel that if something they don’t like happens they can just bounce, the fact that a two parent home gives a child so much support.

      • GeekMommaRants

        Agreed, now if married folks would just provide the formula to keep marriages working, that would be all thats missing.

  • t_99

    I have never understood how people are willing to have kids with someone, but not willing to marry that same individual before the kids. Many marriages end in divorce, but many work out for the long haul. I have never seen the “kids before marriage” scenario work out, not once. I just don’t get it either.

    • yeppers

      Neither have i hunny….neither have I. and my heart weeps for women/men that try and justify why someone wont marry them…when AT THE END OF THE DAY WE ALL DESERVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO MARRY US. And this is coming from an unmarried woman….I just want more for myself. and I deserve that. And if you dont want that or as a man feel like you dont deserve that. THEN YOU NOT THE MAN FOR ME.

      • chanela

        someone told me that it’s better because if you two disagree then the woman can just take the kids and leave. SMH why have kids with someone who you don’t plan on being with that long? WTH

  • Say What?

    I definitely don’t think children should be made just for the hell of it, but with that said if you define a committed relationship in which as a child is born only a marriage than that’s on you. Some people don’t believe in marriage, but do want one partner for the rest of their lives. To each their own I guess.

  • Are we livin in the biazzaro twilight zone where babies are something that’s ‘cute’ to do with no thought of establishing a family unit first? WTF? It’s one thing to be married have your child and for whatever reason things don’t work out. It’s a whole other debacle to PURPOSELY have a child with someone you don’t even care enough about to want to try to have a relationship with.

    I don’t get it.

    • Meyaka

      Took the words right out of my mouth.

    • I see myself as a mother, but not necessarily a wife. I don’t feel bad for that, because 50% of marriages leave men and women single parents anyways. Thats life. I’d rather not marry a guy who questions his ability to keep it in his pants, which seems to be the new normal now. You forget that commitment is defined differently by people. I don’t want a white dress, papers, or a ring- those things dont define marriage, or commitment. Children don’t come with marriage, and marriage doesn’t come with children. As lond as I can take care of the outcome, who cares?

      • You don’t need a ring, but come on now letting yourself get pregnant by some negro you KNOW has issues keeping it in his pants is wrong on all levels in every scenario. Yet and still women delude themselves that this ish is cool or the thing to do because they ‘take care of the outcome” If the risk of disease isn’t enough of a deterrent surely you need to put your own selfish desire to have a child on the back burner until you find someone who’s gonna put in 50% on raising that kid. Your child deserves no less. Whether you believe in marriage or not you NEED to believe in a two parent household with mom and dad committed to each other for the long haul. Forget marriage Black America can we at LEAST focus on providing a stable two parent household? Can we do that for our children?

        • I agree with a stable two parent home. My point is that marriage doesn’t have to be the big ceremony, rings, etc. I’m no less married to my man because we didn’t go through that. Our commitment is the same. I didn’t mean to suggest getting knocked up by a man slore.


          • yeppers

            AND…I would hope you would know your partner enough to know hes not a man slore who cant keep it in his pants. and If i cant even deem him THAT trustworthy WE WONT BE LAYING DOWN DOING ANYTHING….WE WONT EVEN HAVE A DAM PUPPY TOGETHER….Im sorry my heart and soul are too precious to have people playing around with it. IF you cant be a MAN and come to me with the intention of marrying me, and wanting to make me your wife and above all else, and live together as husband and wife….THEN WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DISCUSS. ….I wish I would discuss a child with you when you dont even have the balls to discuss a marriage. and IN THAT ORDER. lol

  • Pinky

    Like seriously, I have been saying the same thing for years. I could never understand how ppl would be so quick to have children, but be so opposed to marriage. Glad I’m not the only one who sees it

    • yeppers

      Thank you…But then run around talking about men wont commit….WELL WHY SHOULD THEY???? youre not asking them to before laying down and having a child….Chile please. I too know a man who insists on talking about having children with women and wont entertain a marriage idea or monogamous relationship. Just like the author everytime I come at him with the “I hope u talking about with your wife” He just laughs it off…He’ll have some skeeze preggers by the end of the year talking by oh lawd what Im gon do now….WATCH. LOL

    • KIR12

      This is a very well written, well thought out article. IMO another big problem in the lack of marriage in the black community is this “don’t settle”, “I can wait until my 30’s (out of your prime) to get married” narrative which nothing more than Black Feminist PC version of “I don’t need a man” (to have a family). Which often leads to a self fulfilling prophecy. Black folks have been getting married successfully young and growing together since the beginning of time. Now all a sudden it’s bad? Yes the divorce rate is 50% but the separation rate for black nanny mamas and their baby daddies is close to 90%. We know black baby daddies do not stay with their baby mamas.

      This ideology has now trickled down to yong girls w/o or with only H.S., diplomas, unemployed or working menial jobs thinking they can wait. What in the heck does someone without an education need to wait for? End result millions of 30 or 40 year old women many w/kid (s) in poverty or living check to check looking for a “good” husband. Not many men with good jobs are going to sign up for that.